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Memoirs of a Water Boy - Waterboys who didn’t cut the mustard

Waterboys who didn’t cut the mustard

Not everyone can be a waterboy, no matter how outstanding they’ve been as a player.

Take Todd Steele for example: celebrated chef, top husband and father, great A-grade captain, outstanding footballer (in the air and on the ground), wonderful leader of men but a dodgy waterboy. Never made it out of the ‘On Probation’ stage.

Todd had an injury and did the team thing: he volunteered to help run the water. I tried to teach the new dog some old tricks, but failed badly.

He started all right. Ran with enthusiasm, bowled over one or two opposition players, coached his teammates, rucked in a boundary throw-in on his way off the ground and covered a lot of territory. By the time I gave three players a drink, he’d done the other 15 plus the umpires and several spectators in front of the porta-boozer.

But, during the second quarter, when I saw him ‘javelin’ the bottles to players 50-metres away instead of running to them and politely handing them over, I knew I had to say something.

At half time, I took him aside from the huddle and explained WFC best practice for waterboys.

‘Todd, we have high standards. We don’t throw the bottles, mate. We hand them to the players then take them back with a smile and a cheery comment.’

He put on a brave face and took my positive criticism on the chin (which I think was quavering just a little).

‘I know, Al. I’ve been told (Did I detect a sob?) - by several players.’

I can’t remember if he continued after half-time. If he did, it was a subdued performance.

One player who showed most potential but never-ever returned after half time was Andy ‘Macca’ McDonald. He ran the water many times and always did the right things: kept away from the ball, ran swiftly, kept his mouth shut and handed bottles to players.

But, after half-time when I’d be wondering where my second-in-command had gone, I invariably spotted him seated outside the fence in the north-east corner of Willunga oval, drinking beers with the B-graders. A promising career destroyed by the booze.

A third player whose career as a waterboy was never going to take off was Paul ‘Barney’ Collier. Barney not only coached teammates as he lingered on the ground, but he stood in the hole at centre-half back, verballed opposition players and told umpires how they could improve their performance. His career was very short.

But, these lads all did one thing right – they gave it a go. What are you doing next Saddy arvo?

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